Pneumoconiosis during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

During the Coronavirus Pandemic the NUM, like many other organisations, has had to close its offices and suspend its surgeries because of the lockdown and social distancing rules. This does not mean that we are no longer available to help and assist members, former members and their families throughout this crisis.

Some staff and NUM Officials have been doing what they can from home to assist those getting in touch for help and advice and this will continue to be the case until things can return to normal. It is not an ideal situation and means that things take longer to do but it is the best that we can do in the current circumstances.

At the start of the Coronavirus Pandemic the NUM recognised that due to the nature of the virus our members and former members would be more at risk, because of their underlying health conditions caused from working in the nation’s mines, of a less favourable outcome should they contract Covid19. It is sad to say that from the reports we are getting back that this fear was not unfounded.

Coal miners (and their families) can access various schemes to receive compensation if as a result of their working down the out they suffer from pneumoconiosis. Some of these schemes can be accessed as a posthumous claim by the family upon the death of a former mineworker if there is official evidence that the person suffered from the disease. The main way to do this is if pneumoconiosis is recorded on the death certificate or if the person was in receipt of an award for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) for pneumoconiosis while alive.

The NUM has had a long running campaign to ensure that where there is evidence that the person suffered from pneumoconiosis it is recorded on the death certificate so that the surviving family can access the compensation. The use as a general term “Industrial Disease” on death certificates, without specifying which disease, is not enough to access the compensation available through the DWP, 1974 Scheme, 1979 Act or the £1,500 grant from the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation (CISWO).

We have also had issues where an individual has been diagnosed as suffering from pneumoconiosis by the DWP and given a low assessment of disability which has been shown to be incorrect upon post-mortem examination. This would normally allow the family to claim an uplift of the benefits in payment before the person passed away. Because of the issues we have seen in the past the Union was concerned that during the Coronavirus Pandemic, Covid19 would be recorded on the death certificate with no reference to the pre-existing health conditions like pneumoconiosis or COPD and that “Industrial Disease” would be used as a general term so as not to have to identify which industrial disease it was.

The NUM’s concerns, of increased risk of death from Covid19 due to underlying conditions present in former mineworkers, the failure to record pneumoconiosis on death certificates and the refusal to perform a post-mortem in these cases has been taken up by a group of MP’s in coalmining / former coalmining constituencies who have co-signed a letter written by Stephanie Peacock MP for Barnsley East to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock MP. The NUM would like to thank them for their support.

A Joint letter signed by Chris Kitchen on behalf of the NUM and Conor McGinn MP for St Helens North and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Coalfield Communities has been sent to Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP Secretary of State for Justice. The NUM would like to thank Conor and the MP’s of the APPG Coalfield Communities for their support on this issue.

Much of the above would equally apply to Mesothelioma, Asbestosis and Pleural Thickening where the DWP have refused to allow claims for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit on the grounds that Mineworkers and former Mineworkers do not meet the prescription for these Industrial Diseases. This is being challenged on an individual case by case basis and has been raised with the DWP and the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC) as it is wrong to say that there was no exposure to silicon (Sandstone) dust and asbestos in the pits. The NUM will continue to object to these decisions and gain support from MP’s in former Mining Constituencies to address these issues.

The NUM will continue to push for the accurate recording of all Industrial Diseases on death certificates in order that the families can claim the compensation that they are entitled to.

Death of Meirion (Mark) Jones.

It is with great sadness that we are informed of the sad news that Meirion (Mark) Jones, father of David Jones, has passed away.

The funeral will take place on Wednesday 3rd June at 11 am, at Moorthorpe Cemetery, where he will be reunited with his beloved wife, Doreen & son David.

A short service will take place for close family at the cemetery, with a memorial service at a later date.

The NUM would like to express our condolences to the family.

God bless and Rest In Peace Mark.

David Jones / Joe Green memorial 2020 update.

This year’s David Jones / Joe Green memorial tomorrow is going ahead. Whilst we would like to see as many people attend as possible it is understandable if those with underlying health problems or those who have flu like symptoms do not attend. Looking after your own health and being considerate to the health of others is not being disrespectful to the memory of David Jones and Joe Green, it is the responsible thing to do.

Government announcement, Banning the burning of coal and wet wood.

Following the DEFRA consultation last year the UK Government has today announced a ban on the burning of domestic coal and wet wood. Sales of bagged traditional house coal will be phased out by February 2021, and the sale of loose coal direct to customers will end by 2023. Whilst this will effect concessioners who still burn house coal in does not apply to smokeless fuels which can continue to be burnt.

The NUM has requested a meeting with the Head of the Coal Liabilities Unit and Director’s Office to discuss this decision as we have concerns as to what the effect will be on the price and therefore amount of future smokeless fuel allowances. The NUM’s view is that we should revisit the amounts paid for cash-in-lieu and possible grant to assist concessioners with the cost of converting to alternative fuels.

 

NEC BACK LISA NANDY FOR LEADER

Following NUM NEC meeting 14 January 2020 backing was given for Angela Rayner to become Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Lisa Nandy to be become leader of the Labour Party. The gender of the candidates was not an issue. All candidates were considered to be suitable. The need to win back support for the Labour Party from former mining communities was a consideration and both nominations are on the ‘coalface’ so to speak. We need to work hard to win the next General Election and the work starts now and whoever is elected as Leader and Deputy Leader will have the support of the National Union of Mineworkers.

Press reports:

New Statesman

Yorkshire Post

NEC BACK LISA NANDY FOR LEADER

Following NUM NEC meeting 14 January 2020 backing was given for Angela Rayner to become Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Lisa Nandy to be become leader of the Labour Party. The gender of the candidates was not an issue. All candidates were considered to be suitable. The need to win back support for the Labour Party from former mining communities was a consideration and both nominations are on the ‘coalface’ so to speak. We need to work hard to win the next General Election and the work starts now and whoever is elected as Leader and Deputy Leader will have the support of the National Union of Mineworkers.

Press reports:

New Statesman

Yorkshire Post

NEU Manifesto Comparisons

The NEU has set up a website to show the comparison between the Labour Party and Tory Party manifesto pledges on education for every school in England. To see how the result of the General Election will affect the school that your children/grandchildren attend please follow the link:
https://schoolcuts.org.uk/